the city

the city

Of Cupcakes and Condos: The Onetime Editor at Large of ‘Open City’ Returns to New York

Video still from 'Street' (2011) by James Nares. (Courtesy the Metropolitan Museum of Art / ©James Nares)

The morning after I arrived in New York last month for a week’s visit—the city had been my longtime home until three years ago, when I moved to Europe—I went to the Metropolitan Museum to see the extraordinary new video Street by James Nares. A set of continual tracking shots of New York life, it was shot from a moving car, using a technique whereby each person captured on camera becomes a sort of extreme slow-motion three-dimensional Everyman—a flicked cigarette is as poetic in its eternal arc as flapping birds. A dazzling hour of audio-visual meditation, it is particularly suited to anyone who’s just disembarked from a plane and wants to plunge immediately into the city. Mr. Nares told me that he wished he had made such a video when he first arrived here, back in the mid-1970s. Seeing Street prompted me to take the city’s pulse, note its shifts, lament what’s been lost in the time since I lived here. Read More

the city

At MoMA Panel, the Judd Foundation Conjures 1970s Soho

101 Spring Street. (Photo by Andrea Steele-Judd Foundation Archives/© Judd Foundation)

Introducing a panel last night at the Museum of Modern Art, Rainer Judd recalled the 1970s as “a kind of magical time in New York City, when artists.” She interrupted herself. “This is second-hand,” she said, “because I was only, like, five, so excuse me if I get it wrong—but artists took over a neighborhood. It was fairly empty with the exception of artists.”

Ms. Judd was talking, of course, about Soho, where in 1968 her father, Donald Judd, bought a cast-iron building at 101 Spring Street to use as a home and studio. The neighborhood was nearly vacant at the time, except for ramshackle manufacturing businesses. Her brother, Flavin, was born that same year, and she was born two years later. The 101 Spring building is set to reopen in about a year, following extensive renovations by the Judd Foundation, which had organized the evening’s event, “An Artists’ World: SoHo in the 1970s.” Read More

the city

A Final Resting Place and Its Afterlife: Woodlawn Cemetery Is Transforming Into a Cultural Institution…But for Now, Bring Out Your Dead

Aerial photo of Woodlawn Cemetery from 1921. (Courtesy Resnicow Schroeder)

This is how life works: a person is born and then begins dying.

The person lives for a short period of time or an average period of time or a longer than average period of time. One day, either suddenly or after a long or short period of suffering, or maybe peacefully in his or her sleep in the way that is referred to as natural, the person dies. The person has a family or has no family or has a family but does not speak to them. Perhaps the person is remembered by a lot of people he or she never even met, but more likely, the person dies and is only remembered by close acquaintances and family (this is probably the case even, or really especially, with the family that is not on speaking terms). Then those people in the family or those close acquaintances also die and they are remembered or not remembered by their own separate close acquaintances and family and so forth. Every person becomes an “it.” What do we do with it, the family or the close acquaintance asks, as in, “What do we do with the body?” Worldwide, around two people die every second. Close to 120 people, give or take, have died in the time it has taken you to read this paragraph—that is a lot of “its” to deal with. Read More